Reasons for Radiology

A lot of people worry when I ask them for a radiologic study of their pet.  What happens in the xray room? Can I go with my pet in there?  Why do I need to spend the money for something like that?  There are many good answers for all of the above.

Let me start with the case of a little dog named Flynn who came in for a general wellness appointment.  After examining the pet and going through my usual checklist, I spent some extra time discussing his habits with the owner and some extra time examining his spine. Dogs with long backs need preventive care and consideration for the possibility of degenerative disc disease.  This pet was a mixed breed but has that look of a dachshund crossed with some terrier. It’s a very cute mix, don’t you think?

Anyway, Flynn’s owner told me that he uses the stairs a lot and jumps on and off furniture.  After holistically treating dozens of paralyzed or painful dogs for disc problems over the past 20 years, I always try to get ahead of issues such as jumping up and down and climbing stairs.  All of those can injure any dog, but long backed dogs have a higher risk of injury.

Two particular points of reaction showed up when palpating Flynn’s spine.  Palpation means running my fingers along each side of the pet’s spine with a slight bit of pressure and watching for a shiver type reaction, a muscle that flinches or reacts with a spasm. Some pets will move their feet or shift their weight as a sign that something isn’t right.  Flynn had a shivery type muscle reaction in two locations.  His owner was kind enough to approve diagnostic images for Flynn.  Keep in mind that to the owner, Flynn had no issues and showed no sign of anything being wrong.

I’m glad Flynn’s owner approved of the diagnostic images as a way to get more information about Flynn’s current health status and to work toward the goal of preventing future illnesses.  The palpation results were legitimate after looking at the lateral image.

Dachshund cross with degeneration in spine.


The image shows a few trouble spots. The small circle to the left shows a small bone spur. This is the body’s response to above average impact by trying to provide a scaffold by which calcium can deposit to provide a denser bone structure to create stability.

The center rectangle outlines spinal changes revealing intervertebral disc spaces that are equally spaced but the ventral side of the vertebra shows deviation of a normal arch.  At a normal walk this would cause very little interruption in normal gait. But jumping down off a couch or chair could inflict serious trauma to that weak area.

In the long oval to the right, L7 – S1 compression which would feel like pressure at the base of the tailbone and can create numbness to the rear legs and interruption in defecation and urination.  This can also affect anal gland release.

Since pain medication like NSAIDs can have significant side effects on the body’s organ function and Flynn wasn’t painful at home, I prescribed a holistic arnica-based option for him.  He also has strict orders to cease jumping and stair climbing.

I would like to thank Flynn’s owner for taking such good care of him and being proactive in his health care plan.  Because of her willingness to work with our integrative annual wellness plan and following the suggested lifestyle changes, Flynn will have a longer healthier life ahead.

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